Natural Conditions of Russia

By | August 26, 2022

Russia can be divided into five main physical-geographic regions: the East European Plain, extending from the western borders of Russia to the Urals, the Ural Mountains themselves, the West Siberian Plain between the Urals and the Yenisei, the Central Siberian Highlands – the area between the Yenisei and Lena rivers – and the mountainous regions of the southern and Eastern Siberia.


The Eastern European Plain occupies most of European Russia. In the south, it passes into the steppes of the Kuban Plain, bounded by the mighty barrier of the Caucasus, which also forms the border with Asia. Its hills nowhere exceed a height of 500 m above sea level. It is limited to the northwest by the Karelian Lake Plateau and the more mountainous Kola Peninsula, and to the northeast by the Timan Mountains. To the west of Moscow lies the Valdai Upland, where a number of large rivers originate, including the Volga, Dnieper and Western Dvina. The southwest is filled by the extensive and low Central Russian Highlands. In the east, it forms the natural boundary of the plain of the mountain rangeThe Urals, which has long been the dividing line between Europe and Asia. To the east of the Urals lies one of the largest lowlands in the world – the swampy West Siberian Plain (more than 3 million km 2), crossed by the great rivers Ob, Irtysh and Yenisei.

According to SMARTERCOMPUTING, the Central Siberian Highlands, formed by a system of extensive plateaus and low mountain ranges divided by numerous streams, are made of rocks that belong to the oldest in the world. In the south, it rises into the higher Angarsk Plateau, and on the contrary, to the east, it slopes down to the Central Yakut Plain in the Lena and Viljuy basins . The plateau is interrupted in the north by the swampy North Siberian Plain, behind which rises the low Byrranga mountain range, penetrating the Taimyr Peninsula to the Arctic coast. The extension of this system up to 80° north latitude is represented by the glaciated islands of the Northern Lands.

Bands of folded mountains rise in the southeast of the West Siberian Plain. The highest is Altai with numerous glaciers in the west, which covers the territory of four states. From the Altai, the lower Western Sayan extends to the east and along the border with the Mongolian wild Tannu-Ola mountain range. Another vast mountain range – the Eastern Sayan – peaks on the Mongolian border. To the northeast of it, Lake Baikal fills a large moat depression, which, with its unique depth of 1,620 m, represents the largest reservoir of fresh water in the world and a unique ecosystem.

Behind Baikal, plateaus (Vitimská, Aldanská) alternate with long mountain ridges (Jablonový, Stanový) all the way to the Sea of ​​Okhotsk. From there to the south lies the Bure Mountains and the wild Sichote- Aliň along the coast of the Sea of ​​Japan. The almost 2,000 km long Verkhojan Mountains stand out in northeastern Siberia. The Čerské glacier mountain range exceeds the height of 3000 m, the Kolymské mountain range stretches from the Sea of ​​Okhotsk beyond the Arctic Circle. The easternmost Chukotka Mountains are crossed by the Chukotka Peninsula, which is separated from Alaska by the less than 100 km wide Bering Strait. Along the Bering Sea, the Koryak Mountains stretch to the southeast, which on the Kamchatka Peninsula passes in a mountain range separated by the depression of the Kamchatka River from the band of high and active volcanoes lining the Pacific coast. The volcanic range continues further southwest through the Kuril Islands into northern Japan. Almost the entire area, including the island of Sakhalin, became infamous for the harshest penal camps (GULAGs), established already under the tsarist government and widely used by the Stalinist regime. The entire Trans-Baikal and Pacific region is also quite seismically active.


The climate of Russia is not as varied as its vast area would suggest. Basically , a cold continental climate prevails with large temperature differences. The exception is the region of the North Caucasus in the southwest and the short coast of the Black Sea, which has an almost Mediterranean climate. A milder oceanic climate is characteristic of the southern part of the Primorsky Krai around Vladivostok in the Far East. In northeastern Siberia in the Verkhoyansk region, winter temperatures reach the lowest values ​​on Earth, with the exception of Antarctica (absolute maximum –70 °C). At the same time, in the short summer, temperatures here can also rise to 30 °C. Practically all of Siberia and the Far East are located in a zone of permafrost, which causes significant problems in the construction of roads and housing estates. Average summer temperatures range from 4–8 °C on the Arctic coast to 25 °C around the Caspian Sea.

Precipitation in most areas reaches medium values ​​(from 400 to 700 mm) and tends to be quite irregular. The wettest is the southern tip of Kamchatka (over 2000 mm), the Primorsky Krai, the northern Altai and a bit of the Black Sea coast below the Caucasus. The driest is the Caspian region (less than 200 mm). Almost 2/3 of the territory is covered by snow for half of the year. Most rivers in Siberia and the Far East freeze for at least 6 months.

Natural Conditions of Russia